Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Curb Your Intelligence: a look at some industry whoppers

It’s time to Curb Your Intelligence – a periodic opportunity to pretend your IQ is half of what it really is, in order to better appreciate some of the more bizarre words and deeds of those who might not be quite as zealous towards clean air as we would wish.

Let’s start with a look at some of our favorites from the electric power industry.

Consider, for example, the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association and lobby for much of the electric power industry. Last week, when the US EPA proposed a big break for industry – in effect, trying to sidestep a recent Supreme Court ruling on new source review – Steve Lomax, EEI manager of air quality programs, told BNA’s Daily Environment Report that the EPA plan was good for the environment because it would prompt companies to shut down older, less efficient power plants.

Now if someone would actually identify a power plant in the nation that would shut down if this proposal becomes final…

On the same topic, we were in awe at the comments of Scott Segal, director of the industry Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, quoted by Associated Press as saying that the EPA proposal "allows us to make efficiency improvements that reduce carbon emissions" and help address global warming.

Now Scott, to be sure, is without peer as a debater and phrase-maker for his clients. Indeed, he is a modern-day Protagoras. (To adapt an old Cole Porter song, Brush up your Plato, start quoting him now. http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/data/brushupy.htm )

We were thrown by the comment, since ERCC sometimes seems associated with efforts to poke fun at the idea of reducing CO2 http://www.electricreliability.org/vc.php?cid=228.

But let’s not forget the company in the middle of that mess – the Duke Energy Corporation. Duke CEO Jim Rogers likes to rub elbows with some environmentalists (did I call them gullible?) and talk about the need to deal with global warming.

But did you know that Duke is also leading an industry effort to overturn EPA’s so-called “clean air interstate rule” – the one halfway decent thing the Bush team has done on power plants.

In a recent legal brief in federal court, Duke’s attorneys called the EPA cleanup plan “unreasonable” and said it should be thrown into the trash can. EPA, if you will recall, said these rules would prevent 17,000 premature deaths a year. http://www.epa.gov/air/interstateairquality/pdfs/cair_final_fact.pdf

That’s a lot of deaths if Rogers’ company wins.

Finally, to look at another pollution controversy. You may recall that for a number of years, pollution controls for lawn mowers and other small engines were put on the shelf because of aggressive lobbying by one company, the Briggs & Stratton Corporation. B&S contended that cleaning up lawn mowers would force it to close its Missouri factories and send the jobs to China – a cry taken up by its Senate champion, Senator Kit Bond.

Well, an excellent report in today’s Washington Post points out that EPA standards are still in the distant future – but that B&S has ALREADY announced that it’s closing a Missouri factory – and shifting some jobs to China, where it’s already built a factory.

Isn’t it great that companies like this are so patriotic?

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